Posted tagged ‘decorating the tree’

“At last the dishes were set on, and grace was said. It was succeeded by a breathless pause, as Mrs Cratchit, looking slowly all along the carving-knife, prepared to plunge it in the [goose] breast; but when she did, and when the long- expected gush of stuffing issued forth….”

December 14, 2017

Yesterday and last night were quite cold. During the day the wind was a blast of frigid air making it feel even colder. When I took Gracie out early, I was hoping she’d be quick. She was. The only good part was my chimes bounced around in the wind and sounded  lovely.

I finished decorating my tree yesterday. I had put the lights on the day before so I added the finishing touches: garlands and ornaments. I took my time and sat down periodically.  What tired me out was hauling bins up from the cellar and then hauling them back down. I still need to check some bins today as I am missing a few traditional decorations. I’m a bit afraid to look as I figure I’ll see more decorations for the house, and I’ll be back to hauling again. I also haven’t found the lights on, lights off floor button, and I don’t want to be crawling under the tree. I was a sweaty mess when I finished, but it was worth it. The tree and the house look lovely and are filled with Christmas. After my exertions, I had an egg nog, a well-deserved egg nog, and sat in the living room admiring the tree.

I still have cards to send, and I need to choose my cookies and make a shopping list. Looking through recipes is enjoyable for me. When making a dinner for guests, I image how the dish will look, how it will taste and what might go with it. Cookies are easier.

One Christmas season I invited my friends to dinner a couple of weeks before Christmas. That was the year of the goose. A Christmas Carol and goose for dinner at the Cratchit’s house piqued my interest. I looked up recipes to use and presented my friends with an English feast. The goose was delicious with its crisp crust and moist meat and a bread stuffing with sage and onions. We dined on mashed potatoes and gravy, apple sauce just as the Cratchits had, and I added a combination of roasted root vegetables: parsnips, turnips and carrots. The dessert was the crowning glory. I made Christmas pudding, poured brandy on it and brought it to the table aflame. There was applause. I bowed though I figured the applause was more for the pudding. That dinner was remarkable.

Okay, I brought some bins down the cellar while my coffee was brewing, and I couldn’t help myself so I went hunting in a few bins I hadn’t checked. Eureka!! I found what I wanted: my small aluminum tree, my on and off light button and a few ornaments I wanted to add. That ends the hunt.

Today I have a few errands and I’ll write out the rest of the cards. I will do nothing  strenuous. All those bins took their toll.

“Christmas is not a date. It is a state of mind.”

December 18, 2016

No countdown can start until the week before the event. It is a rule. That means the countdown to Christmas begins today. If I were little again, this would be momentous.

The day is damp again. It rained during the night. We are left with warmish temperatures, a bit of a wind and gray skies. I went out on the deck earlier to dump the rain puddles from the table cover. The deck got soaked so did my feet.

I’m staying home again today. I don’t mind at all. My house is cozy, and every room is bright with Christmas lights which shine so lovely on a cloudy, dark day.

We used to string popcorn for the tree. We’d sit at the table with bowls of popcorn in front of us and needles thread with thin string in our hands. They were dangerous weapons. Several times we’d prick our own fingers and break the popcorn. Yelps were common. My mother would join our strands to make one long strand of popcorn which was circled around the tree. Shauna, one of my Boxers, would eat the popcorn and drag a strand off the tree to the floor for better access. My father always chuckled. Later, when we were older, we’d string cranberries with the popcorn. They stayed on the tree.

My sister and I were talking last night about our trees. We all buy live trees every year. My family always did. My father and his sister, my Aunt Mary, had a running joke. My mother bought the tree and never told my father the actual price. He’d have been apoplectic. Instead, she’d give him an amount in the $30’s. When my aunt saw the tree, always big and magnificent, she’d ask how much it cost, and my father would tell her. She never believed him. He’d swear it. It was the truth as far as he knew.

“Easter is meant to be a symbol of hope, renewal, and new life.”

April 5, 2015

Happy Easter and Happy Passover!

This morning my alarm jolted me awake at 6:15. I went down to my friends’ house to decorate the tree by their deck, an Easter custom. I hung a cardboard tiled banner with Peep in the middle and a chick on each side, several colored eggs and a small glass flower pot with a hyacinth. It was cold, only 34˚, and quiet until I heard the loud gobbles of wild turkeys. Four huge toms appeared on the front lawn across the street. Their tails were fanned. They strutted across the lawn, gobbled again, together as if they practiced, and went around back. I watched until they disappeared. Wild turkeys are common here, but these were the biggest I’ve seen.

After I finished decorating, Gracie and I went to the ATM and then to Dunkin’ Donuts. I didn’t see another car until the main road. It is quiet in neighborhoods on Easter morning. At Dunkin’ Donuts I was third in line.

The day is sunny and bright.

This afternoon we’ll get gussied up and go to our Easter dinner at the Ocean House. I think it is the only day I voluntarily wear a dress and fancy shoes. We always wait for a window table as the restaurant looks right onto the rocks and the ocean; hence its name. Out the windows you can see and hear the gulls circling over the water. If there is wind, there are whitecaps.

It doesn’t matter how many times I see the ocean or the gulls or the rocks because every time is mesmerizing. The waves slap the rocks and water flies into the air. Gulls walk on the wet sand and leave their footprints. They always seem to look proud as they walk.

During dinner we chat, laugh, take pictures, all sorts of pictures, and often look out the window. We always say how beautiful it is and how lovely the view. We also always say how lucky we are.

“Little Jack Horner sat in the corner, Eating a Christmas pie. He put in his thumb, and pulled out a plum, And said, ‘What a good boy am I?’”

December 19, 2014

It is quite late for me because I had several errands. I also treated myself to lunch in between as I had a half hour wait before I could finish my last errand. Today is a still day, a windless day. It is dark and cold. Everyone was bundled up and was moving quickly from store to store.

I need to get out of my public clothes into my cozies. I’ll be glad when I’m really old because I’ll wear whatever I want in public and people will chalk it up to old age.

The Christmas tree lot at Stop and Shop is gone. A few trees are on the ground, the leftovers I expect. Agway is still open but has very few trees. I remember my mother talking about her Christmas tree and how it was decorated when they were in bed on Christmas Eve. They’d wake up in the morning to a glorious tree and gifts from Santa. I like having the tree around longer. I get to admire it in the living room, and I get to sit and read surrounded by Christmas. Both trees are lit now. They have given the day its only color.

Fern has taken to sleeping on the tree skirt. She falls asleep warmed by the lights and sleeps so deeply she snores but ever so slightly. I have to listen closely to hear her. Gracie, on the other hand, snores loudly, like a grown man, a big grown man. She snorts as she sleeps. Sometimes I can’t fall asleep for the racket. Boxers tend to be snorers.

A few Christmas jobs remain. I have my baking to do, presents to wrap for my Cape friends and Christmas dinner to plan. I ordered a pork roast from the butcher, but that is as far as I’ve gotten. I know I’ll do an apple dish and some sort of potato, and I’m thinking baby carrots for color and one more vegetable yet to be decided. I’m going to do a relish tray. My grandmother always had one on her table when we ate there. I was always drawn to the celery. I have the perfect dish to use: a very old glass sectioned plate just like the one my grandmother had. The old touches are always great memories to add to the table.

When I think of dessert, I think of the Cratchits and their Christmas pudding. The flame was always so dramatic and such a splendid finish to dinner.

“The Christmas tree is a symbol of love, not money. There’s a kind of glory to them when they’re all lit up that exceeds anything all the money in the world could buy.”

December 18, 2014

My Christmas tree is beautiful. I finally finished decorating it except for the star. The top branch is too high though I could try standing on the couch or a table, but I know my history so I’m waiting for a friend who will do it today. The tree decorating began with the lights. I wound them around and tried to hit the inside dark spots. I have regular colored lights, two strands of chili pepper lights and one special set of lights which is always last. It is Santa with his eight reindeer and each hangs separately. I have the reindeer flying to the top of the tree. Next I hung the cranberry and popcorn, colorful beads and a strand of stars. Last were the ornaments. The first ones hung were three from Ghana my friend gave me. She had bought them in Kumasi in 1969. As she doesn’t usually have a tree, she thought I would be a good caretaker. I keep them in a special box, and they are always first.

My tree is so many things. It is my childhood with the glass bulbs my mother gave me. Some of them have lost their paint, but they are all still bright with memories. Other ornaments were stitched by me. I had given them to my mother as a Christmas present one year, and they came back to me after she died. She loved sheep and lambs and two of the ornaments have lambs. Places I’ve visited have special ornaments. There is a stitched heart from Hungary and ornaments from England, Portugal, Italy and Germany. I also have some really ugly ornaments I love for their whimsy, their ugliness. One is an angel with just a few strands of hair, buttons for eyes and a cloth body with arms holding a piece of greenery. On her chest is stitched Joy. Another is a beach goer who is carrying a folded umbrella, a towel and is wearing a bikini. She has wispy hair,what little there is of it. A couple of circus clowns in bright colors are always on my tree. One is holding a tiny umbrella, far too small to hold off the rain. I have a few Cape Cod ornaments and others with no pedigree. I just liked them.

The last ornament I always put on the tree is made from children’s blocks. I had made an ornament for every member of my family with each name spelled out in blocks for the last Christmas we spent together. I have my mother’s. It says Chick, which is what everyone called her. When I put it on the tree, she is here for Christmas.

“Christmas is the keeping-place for memories of our innocence.”

December 8, 2013

The sun is among the missing again. It is a bit colder than it has been, down to 34˚. I guess the big chill is headed this way so we need to brace ourselves. I can already feel the breeze from the dog door so the back door will have to stay shut. Gracie won’t mind as she doesn’t like being out in the cold too long. She hasn’t a lot of fur. She prefers lying on the couch on her afghan while the heat blasts keeping all of us warm. Nothing dumb about dogs!

I am slow to start this year. Usually my house is already beginning to look a lot like Christmas. My sisters have their trees up and one sister is just about done decorating while the other is well along. I’ll start this week and do a bit each day. My back better hold up for the duration. I love when the house is filled with Christmas.

When I was a kid, our decorations were a bit worse for wear. Many of them were cardboard Santas and snowmen we always put on the windows near the stenciled white snowflakes. Many ornaments were plastic though the best of them was glass. I have several of the small glass ornaments as my mother gave each of us a bag of them for our trees. They take the longest to hang as I hold each one for a while and let the memories of those long ago Christmas seasons wash over me.

Our trees were never showcases. There were bare spots where there should have been more branches. We used to put Christmas cards inside near the trunk in the spaces. I also remember a Coca-Cola Santa who had a prime spot in the middle. The tinsel was silver and my mother always put it on the tree. She was into draping it from branch to branch. The icicles were the old lead ones which hung so well from their own weight. They never stuck to our clothes the way the new ones do. My mother was right. The icicles always looked better hung individually than flung on in piles, our method for putting them on the tree.

I think we always had the prettiest, most colorful trees. Bare spots went unnoticed. We just saw the lights, the ornaments and the icicles hanging off branches and shimmering with reflective colors. My mother would put a few wrapped presents under the tree. We aways knew they were the pajamas.

We could hardly wait until it got dark. We’d run and turn the bulbs on in the orange window candle lights, and one of us would turn on the outside lights then we’d plug in the tree. Every night we were in awe when the lights came on because the tree was magnificent.

“I’ve learned that you can tell a lot a person by the way he or she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas lights.”

December 11, 2012

It really poured last night. The rain pounded the doors and windows. I got soaked. How did I get soaked you ask? Well, it was Christmas disaster number 2: the saga of the front outside lights. They didn’t light last night. The side and back were bright with color, but the front was dark. I put my sweatshirt hood up and went to the outside outlet. The timer wasn’t on; the outlet was dead. I reset it, plugged in the timer and the lights went on. It was a miracle. I got back into the house and turned around just in time to see the lights go out. I went outside and did it all over again to no avail. The outlet had gotten wet despite the cover. What to do? What to do? I took the timer out back and plugged it in an outlet on the deck. The timer still didn’t work. Did it short out I wondered? I came back inside to find out my kitchen lights didn’t work. I went downstairs to the circuit box and flipped switches. While down there, I brought up another timer and the longest extension cord in the world. I pluggedthe cord into a living room outlet, passed it behind a table so it wouldn’t be on the floor where I would definitely trip on it and fall then I took it out the front door and behind the bushes to the cords. I plugged the cords into the new timer then the timer to the world’s longest extension cord running out the front door. Everything worked. The only problem was the front door wouldn’t close over the cord so I left it ajar. At this point my sweatshirt was soaked and so were the hems of my pants and my shoes. I know I could have avoided everything and stayed inside, but I just couldn’t take half a lit house. Before I went to bed, I went outside and unplugged the extension, rolled it up as I went and brought it inside the house so I could shut the door. Today I’m hoping the outlet has dried.

I am going to decorate my tree today. Yesterday I slid it close to its resting spot but left room in the back so I can put the lights on without a struggle. Okay, without a struggle? Who am I kidding? I know that somehow something will go wrong. One year, after I’d put on all the lights, they all blew out. That was the year of the dark tree. Others years the trees fell; those were the years of the crooked trees. Another year the tree I’d bought to support the girls’ track team starting dropping needles at an alarming rate. That was the year of no tree.

Despite it all, I love Christmas. I love having a tree and sitting and just looking at it. I love Christmas carols and sugar cookies shaped liked snowmen. Today I’m going to decorate my tree, and despite everything, I am still an optimist. I have the highest hopes.

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